Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct Process
Students are essential members of the MSUB community and are expected to uphold and abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Student Conduct Code. The student conduct program at MSUB is an educational and developmental process that balances the interests of individual students with the interests of the academic community. It is not intended to punish students; rather, it exists to challenge those whose behavior is not in accordance with our policies and to protect the interests of the community. Educational interventions are intended to improve the students’ moral and ethical decision-making and to help them learn more about what is expected as members of our community. In cases where students fail to live by the conduct standards or pose a threat to the continuing safety of the university community, the conduct process may determine that the student should no longer share in the privilege of being a member of this community.
Students should be aware that the student conduct process is quite different from criminal and civil court proceedings. Procedures and rights in student conduct process are conducted with fairness, but do not include the same protections of due process afforded by the courts in criminal cases. Due process, as defined within these procedures, assures written notice and a hearing before an impartial hearing officer with the right to appeal most decisions. No student will be found in violation of the MSUB Code of Student Conduct without determination that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred. Any educational interventions will be proportionate to the severity of the violation and to the cumulative conduct history of the student.
One of the concerns of Montana State University Billings is to provide each student the opportunity to learn. Therefore, some personal freedoms and rights of students include, but are not limited to:
- Freedom of inquiry, speech, and assembly.
- Freedom from threats.
- Freedom from acts of violence.
- Freedom from unfair or obscene treatment from others.
- Freedom from interference from others in an unreasonable and unauthorized manner while in class, activities, and public events.
- Freedom from theft and willful destruction of personal property.
- Right to study and learn in an atmosphere of academic freedom.
- Right to procedural due process in University misconduct action.
- Right to be governed by justifiable academic regulations.
- To be informed in writing of the academic requirements determined by individual instructors.
- Right to be informed of the regulations for academic and social conduct, and graduation requirements of the University.
- Right to petition for redress of grievances, academic and non-academic
Each student has the responsibility:
- To respect the rights and property of others.
- To be fully acquainted and comply with the published rules and regulations of the University.
- To comply with all local, state, and federal laws.
- To recognize that student activities reflect upon the individuals involved as well as upon the entire University community.
- To recognize the University’s obligation to provide a safe environment conducive for learning and academic inquiry.
- To adhere to the academic requirements determined by individual instructors.
- To abide by the reasonable direction of a University official acting within the legitimate scope of his or her duties.
Student Conduct Tenets
- To regard each student as an individual, deserving individual attention, consideration, and respect.
- To consider the facts fully and carefully before resolving any case.
- To speak candidly and honestly to each student.
- To hold each student to a high standard of behavior, both to protect the campus community and to promote student moral development.
- To recognize the reality of human fallibility, as well as the stresses associated with collegiate life, and to demonstrate compassion, understanding, and a sense of perspective.
- To contribute to the educational mission of the university by designing policies, conducting programs, and offering instruction that contribute to the intellectual and moral development of the entire student body.
Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Generally, under FERPA, disciplinary records may not be released or disclosed without the expressed written permission of the student whose disciplinary record is being sought unless provided by law. Release of student disciplinary records is permitted without prior consent to university officials with legitimate educational interest; victim/s of an alleged crime of violence or of an alleged sexual assault; and parents of a student who can provide written documentation that the student is financially dependent.
Student Disciplinary Process
Any person having knowledge of an alleged violation of the Code of Student Conduct may submit an Incident Report to alert the university of specific behavior. The referral should contain a description of the incident; information identifying the complainant; and the time, date, and location of the incident. Upon receiving the report, the student will receive a letter (typically via a secure email system) requesting a formal administrative meeting with a hearing officer to discuss the referral.
Formal Administrative Meeting
A formal administrative meeting is an informal discussion with designated university hearing officer in which the student will be asked to respond to the allegations against him/her. Although the reporting party may not be present, the staff member reserves the right to contact that party if necessary. An advisor, as specified in the Code, may accompany students.
During the meeting, the staff member will review accounts presented by the referred
student and the complaining party. The staff member will then determine if the student
is responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation(s).
Possible outcomes of a preliminary interview include:
- Dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence;
- Defer the case for a period of time pending further investigation by the hearing officer;
- Resolve the case immediately, by determining charges and rendering a determination;
- Educational Interventions
MSUB takes a very educational approach with student conduct and provides educational interventions for responsible behavior to help prevent the behavior from taking place again in the future. There is no rubric for how educational interventions are issued as each student’s needs are different. Possible sanctions (or combinations thereof) include but are not limited to:
- Verbal warning
- Formal warning
- Misconduct Probation
- Deferred Suspension
- Probation or Removal from University Housing
- Educational/Academic Programming or Workshops
- Follow Up Meetings with Hearing Officer
- Right To Appeal
Any student or organization shall have the right to appeal the final decision of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs or designee within 10 business days from receipt of sanction.
In general, appeals must be based on the issue of substantive or procedural errors which are prejudicial and which were committed during the formal resolution process.
- The specific questions for the review which should be addressed in any written appeal are the following:
- Were the procedures of this Code followed?
- If a procedural error was committed, were the rights of the accused materially violated?
- Has the student discovered new evidence, not previously available, which would have materially affected the decision?